Do you own or manage a small retail business? What would you do if a large corporation came to town and started offering most of what you sell? The large business probably has deeper pockets, enabling them to offer lower prices and a larger product selection. How do you compete with large companies?
Here are 4 simple and affordable marketing ideas to help sustain your small business when Goliath sets up shop in your neighborhood.
#1 – Piggyback onto a Powerful & Local Communication Network
One of the most affordable ways to advertise your small business is to piggyback onto another business.
School systems typically have accurate parent email distribution lists, providing a low-cost vehicle for communication reach and frequency. Imagine communicating about your business via your neighborhood school’s email program, Tweets, Facebook and Patch posts.
How do you tap into this network? Simply host a school fundraiser. When parents and relatives of the students in your neighborhood school make a purchase at your store and mention the school name, offer a percentage of the sales to benefit the school. This concept is certainly not new, but it is an underutilized marketing channel.
Schools and small businesses need each other. Your business can thrive when you make this connection. Play an active role by writing the communications yourself, as opposed to putting the onus on busy PTO members and other school staff and volunteers. Your involvement increases your exposure as a preferred business, and you can also control your brand messages.
Small Business Piggybacking & Partnership Marketing Strategies
#2 – Piggyback onto Seasons, Traditions & Habits
Align your marketing with customer habits to be more cost-effective. Take advantage of the many seasonal traditions and events in which your customers participate. Provide a reason for prospects and customers to celebrate and shop at your store. For example, during Halloween offer free glow bracelets and necklaces that help keep children safe, for Christmas offer Santa photos for a small donation that you give back to a local nonprofit, and for Easter offer your location as a fun egg hunt destination. Each of these activities will draw parents, a.k.a. shoppers.
#3 – Freshen Up Signage
Most cities and towns have strict sign regulations. Still, many allow for temporary signs, such as an oversized, roadside reader board. Often, hosting an annual sale, open house or a grand re-opening could qualify as an exception. When you place a new sign in front of your business, passersby will notice. What’s more, you will draw more attention merely by changing the message and look of your current sign on a daily or weekly basis.
#4 – Be Social
Now is the time to find the extrovert hidden deep inside you. Facebook is one of the quickest ways for your business to become socially active and generate chatter about your business. Facebook fans like to share pictures of your products or services. This advertising tool provides you with a free medium to post a message instantaneously, e.g., a last-minute promotion or the arrival of a really cool product, etc. Patch.com is also another great option. One of the advantages of Patch versus Facebook is that it’s locally-based and focused, and just like Facebook it affords you the free opportunity to post your customer events, blog posts and more at no cost.
Most people enjoy supporting local businesses. However, when a large business moves into town, you need to step up your communications. Otherwise, chatter about the new competitor may overshadow your business. While you may have enjoyed being the only game in town for years, a new business often creates shopper curiosity, luring even the most loyal of customers.
Help other small business owners like yourself.
Share how you differentiate yourself from the Goliaths around us in the comment section below.
Very Helpful Free Marketing Resources:
This article: How Your Small Retail Shop Can Compete With A Big Box Store, is one of the best posts I’ve seen packed with really creative marketing ideas for small retailers. It also includes some original ideas to inspire your customers and employees to check in on social media when they’re shopping at your store.
Before you go, don’t forget to sign up for my free monthly marketing tip. It’s filled with affordable and practical ideas to help you grow your small business.
Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing.